Therapist Ethnicity and Treatment Orientation Differences in Multicultural Counseling Competencies

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This study examined the relationship between therapist characteristics, therapeutic orientations, person-level and agency-level practices with cultural competency among 221 Los Angeles County community mental health clinicians. Results from an online survey indicated that compared to White therapists, ethnic minority therapists were more personally involved in communities of color, more likely to use a cultural framework in clinical practice, and perceived their agencies to be more culturally sensitive. Ethnic minority therapists also reported greater multicultural (MC) awareness and better MC counseling relationships with their clients than White therapists. Personal involvement in communities of color accounted for ethnic differences in MC awareness and MC counseling relationships. Compared to therapists with a strictly nonbehavioral (psychodynamic or humanistic) orientation, therapists with an eclectic (or integrative) therapy orientation reported having a higher level of community knowledge. Therapists with an eclectic orientation reported greater MC awareness than therapists with a nonbehavioral orientation, while both eclectic and behavioral (cognitive–behavioral or behavior modification) therapists recounted better MC counseling relationships with their clients than therapists with a nonbehavioral orientation. Community knowledge mediated eclectic versus nonbehavioral therapeutic orientation differences in MC awareness. Agency resources/linkages and outreach both moderated the relationship between therapeutic orientation and MC skills. Results suggest that if therapists become more personally involved with diverse populations, they will feel more culturally aware and feel like they have a better relationship with ethnic minority clients.

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